Guaranteed Sunshine
Monday, 30 November -0001

Guaranteed Sunshine

If you’re looking for guaranteed sunshine at this time of year, Oman is a good bet

Written by Wendy Gomersall
The Sultanate of Oman lies on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, around a seven hour flight from the UK. Temperatures can reach 45C in summer – too warm – but are a pleasant 20-25C in winter, just right for banishing cold-weather blues.

Muscat, the country’s capital and largest city, has a posh airport, modern shopping malls and luxury international hotels, such as the Al Bustan Palace, run by Ritz- Carlton, and the topnotch Al Nahda Resort & Spa, where, in-spa, 31 treatments are available (Dunes, a desert camp in a spectacular location, is opening soon).

I loved Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, the perfect fly-and-flop paradise. A short drive from central Muscat, this is in fact three hotels in one. Al Waha is especially good for families, with kids’ clubs and loads of entertainment. There’s also Al Bandar, or, great for couples, Al Husn, which comes with extras such as pre-dinner cocktails.

The resort has fantastic pools and the meandering Lazy River with inflatables, beaches (where turtles nest in season) and a variety of great restaurants including Asian, Lebanese and Bait Al Bahr serving succulent seafood.

The Chi spa offers a range of pampering including a frankincense and rose wrap – wonderful. There’s also a diving centre, water sports galore and you can go out on a dolphin cruise – if you’re lucky, you might even spot whales.

It would be tempting to spend your entire time within this fabulous resort, but you should have a look at Mutrah Souk – like other Middle Eastern markets, it’s a busy, bustling assault on the senses. If you have the energy to ignore the eager attention of the vendors as you fight your way through, this is where to buy souvenirs: frankincense, dates, lamps, nuts.

Shangri-La runs a courtesy bus to the souk in the evenings, which is good as taxis are not cheap and you do need them to get around if you don’t want to pay out for private sightseeing with Tour Oman – www.touroman.org

You can jump on and off the Big Bus – www.bigbustours.com – which covers most of Muscat’s must-sees, though you’ll have to take a taxi to get to the stop where you pick up the bus. Muscat ‘highlights’ include the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Royal Opera House and Bait Al Zubair Museum.

GETTING THERE

Rooms at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa cost from £200 per night at Al Waha; from £350 at Al Husn. Call 0800-028 3337, www.shangri-la.com/muscat

Al Nahda Resort & Spa, Muscat: www.alnahdaresort.com 

Oman Air flies daily direct to Muscat from Heathrow. Further information at www.omantourism.gov.om

Contact Wendy at wendy.gomersall@lady.co.uk

Prices are correct at the time of going to press.



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